Monday 26 Sep 2016

Parlor Recordings
Jennifer Flaten

If someone urged you to listen to a CD of recording made in living rooms, you would naturally be a bit hesitant. I was, when presented with "Parlour Recordings," a CD-compilation of songs written by David Simmonds and sung in various living rooms. I gave it a listen.

Unconventional recording methods aside, this CD is full of surprises from outstanding lyrics to great overall sound. Each song runs no more than five minutes. Most clock in around two and a half minutes, the length of a pop hit from the 1970s.

"Parlour Recordings" is an hour of enjoyable music. I would best describe the songs as folk, with a twist. The songs are an eclectic mix, with music and lyrics by David Simmonds. Though the lyrics are the true stars, in his songs, the music is fantastic and knows its place. Never does music overwhelm lyrics; it's always right to convey the tone of each song.

Simmonds has Parkinson's, which doesn't affect his mind. Still, the disease makes it hard for him to sing and play guitar. Thus, he enlists his friends to sing and play his songs.

"In Best Before," Margaret Currie-Feuerstack adds the right amount of wry humor to the song, which is about knowing when a relationship is over. Who can't relate to a relationship long past expiration? The fact that Simmonds can write a bouncy song equating marriage with various city signs, that's "Municipal Wisdom," is testament to his skill as a writer. Sjef Frenken puts a playful folksy emphasis on the words to let us know it is all a big joke.

Simmonds is a gifted writer. His spare lyrics range from funny, such as "Chipmunk Strut," to introspective, such as "The Most of You and Me." Each song has a different vocalist and each singer brings the perfect nuances to the song. "Canadian Gospel" is in the style of a church hymn and its celebration of the most holy of snack foods-the donut are on spot on.

"Parlour Recordings" is a fun listen, created by talent men and women. The CD is a great change of pace from carbon copy pop and insipid teen sensations.

CD produced by David Simmonds and Ryan Davies. Ryan Davies engineered the CD; CD identification numbers S17249 and HMA52781. To purchase "Parlour Recordings," call the Ottawa Folklore Centre at 1-800-385-FOLK or locally at 613-730-2887; VISA, MasterCard and American Express accepted.

Jennifer Flaten lives where the local delicacy is fried cheese, Wisconsin. She writes about family life, its amusing or not so amusing moments. "At least it's not another article on global warming," she says. Jennifer bakes a mean banana bread and admits an unusual attraction to balloon animals and cup cakes. Busy preparing for the zombie apocalypse, she stills finds time to write "As I See It," her witty, too often true column. "My urge to write," says Jennifer, "is driven by my love of cupcakes, with sprinkles on top. Who wouldn't write for cupcakes, with sprinkles," she wonders.

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